Apr
08

“Tools of the Sensei,” by Matthew Apsokardu

“One of my instructors, Ann-Marie Heilman, has a rather intense day job. She has to guide children with autism and other special needs in a classroom environment. As you might suspect, her job entails slower lessons, more attention per student, and emotional understanding. But it also comes with random bouts of violence and sporadic launching of bodily fluids.

The real challenge of this job is the bureaucratic freeze placed on teachers and administrators regarding what they can do to defend themselves and control the children. Teachers must essentially cover-up and take beatings handed to them (don’t underestimate the angry violence 11-13 year olds can dish out). Luckily Mrs. H has years of training to guide her in protecting herself while caring for the children and keeping them safe. Other teachers are not so lucky and have been choked, clawed, and hit with blunt objects to the point of unconsciousness.”

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Apr
07

“The friction grip,” by Dan Djurdjevic

“While I’m on the topic of reflexes, I thought I’d deal with one that I’ve previously alluded to but which I think deserves specific attention, namely the ‘grip reflex’.

What is the grip reflex? Briefly put, it is the human tendency to ‘hold on to what you’ve got’ in times of danger or other emergency. The origins of this reflex are easy to understand; when control is of the essence (eg. in climbing, holding or pulling etc.) your capacity to keep a firm and constant grip with your hands is vital.”

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Apr
06

“Fit Tip: Cardio Machines,” from TKRIblog

“You have seen them, the rows and rows of expensive cardio machines upon which so may people rack up countless hours. Most martial artists are more drawn to the kettlebells or dumbbells then they are to these behemoths. Few of the folks perched on theme look very fit anyway.

So why should you consider including them in your fitness program? There are a couple of good reasons actually. First, if used correctly they can provide a good cardio workout while reducing the pounding your joints take. Second, some machines, like ellipticals are designed to reduce the opportunities for you move in ways that can be harmful to your body.”

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Apr
05

“SILENCE STILLNESS,” by Will Gable

“SILENCE STILLNESS can run counter to what the self survival mind demands because it has no survival agendas. In our high tech, hyper adrenaline, life styles we are caught in the ‘need to know’ instant gratification orientation and most will take nothing less as they are ‘online’ with the global communication nets and so linked in people seem to have a hard time truly slowing down their life energies. If we are to awaken our spirits awareness/consciousness, we need to slow down the tendency towards distraction no matter to what level it seems to be pulling our attention. This is where SILENCE STILLNESS can be a powerful ally. Living in the midst of probably the most vivid, distractive culture in many millennium one is being bombarded constantly by the multitude of vibrations running through the air, with all the stations vying for our allegiance of attention.”

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Apr
04

“Self Victory,” by Gregor Erdmann

“We are our most ardent and intimate critic and that is a good thing. We are the only ones equipped with both the insight, and driving force which can shape our progress and development as humans.

To guide our growth on the path most beneficial to ourselves and in fact the world, it is important to recognize the concept of self victory.”

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Mar
12

“The Delusions of Self-Defense in Aikido,” by Marc Abrams

“I find the concept of ‘self-defense’ to be a thread of delusions wrapped around a core of fear and insecurity. Some people conveniently use this term to justify their distorted views of their world which can range wildly on a ‘fight-peace’ spectrum of possible responses to potential threats.

On one end of this spectrum we have those who view their world as dangerous. They perceive that the best way to survive is to be tough enough to deal with that threatening world. They tend to promote the ‘We must practice hard in intense encounters in order to to be able to use Aikido as a martial art. All that soft ki stuff is useless and crazy….’ The more macho, tougher, beat-up you become, the safer you become. People who practice like that over a long period of time end up with chronic injuries that prevent them from being able to continue to train in the manner that they are accustom to. They then tend to replicate that with the next generation and reminisce about the good old days and complain about how soft the next generation has become. They absolutely miss the proverbial boat in learning another way that is also effective, but allows you to still practice effectively in old age. Of course, they cannot ‘see’ this and instead talk about how the students are taking dives for that old person out of respect….”

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Mar
11

“Reactions….,” by Steve Wildash

“‘A bit jumpy today aren’t we’ how many times did I hear that.. the usual sarcastic comment directed at me from classmates as a youngster.. having problems at that time with jumping out of my skin at the slightest thing, it was as though my flinch response was out of control, jumping away from anything vaguely threatening my reactions were in overdrive, whether I was just a very jumpy kid I don’t know, but I know it was embarrassing at times and didn’t really know what the cause was.. as time went on I grew slowly out of it, now it only occasionally rears its ugly head, like the times when my wife appears from nowhere right behind me just as I turn around causing a sharp intake of breath on my part followed by a few expletives.. must be those Ninja slippers I bought her last Christmas…”

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Mar
10

“Ki Meditation,” by Shinichi Tohei

“When our mind firmly sticks to something, we call that state of mind ‘obsession’. We obsess many times in our daily life.

Dwelling on our success in the past is one of our obsessions. The present day is the only time we can act, however, we often obsess with past successes and cannot see the future correctly.

Failure in the past is also an object of obsession. The important thing is to learn from the failure and continue until arriving at achievement without giving up. But we often obsess with the failure in the past and stop challenging ourselves in the present.”

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Mar
09

“Cardio For the Martial Arts,” by Stephan Kesting

“Cardiovascular training can be a confusing topic and there are many different and divergent views on the subject. Different reputable sources inform us that you don’t need to do cardio – just spar really long rounds (for grappling), or that you should spar twice as many rounds as you are going to fight (boxing), or that you should do sprints, or do long runs, or lift weights for muscular endurance, etc. With so many ‘experts’, it is no wonder that the answer isn’t cut and dried.

I have my own beliefs and they seem to work fairly well for me. I noticed a couple of years ago that my techniques worked best and my sparring was sharpest not when I was stronger but rather when my ‘cardio’ was at its peak. Because I wasn’t getting winded in sparring, I was able to think and make coherent plans throughout the match. At the time I was running 3 or 4 times a week, for 20 to 50 minutes at a time, in preparation for the fire department entrance test.”

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Mar
08

“Distract, distract, distract!,” by Dan Prager

“Last night we spent the bulk of the class applying jiu-jitsu tactics to escaping from common holds: An exhaustive variety of wrist grabs, plus a few chokes.

The beauty of being grabbed is that you can feel exactly where your partner’s hand or hands are, and with a little sensitivity the rest of his or her body too. If (s)he moves you can sense that as well.”

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Mar
07

“A Simple Lesson in Body Mechanics,” by Christopher Caile

“A mistake made by many karate-ka and other martial artists is improper pelvis and hip alignment in their front leaning stance. Instead of the pelvis and hips being aligned naturally under the rest of the spine, the hips are pulled backward and out of line by the back leg. The problem is aggravated if the stance is long and low.”

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Mar
06

“Injuries,” by Rick Berry

“Today I received an email regarding sporting participants who get concussions. Attached was a ‘New York Times’ online article regarding this problem. This email was about the lack of reporting the seriousness of the injuries by the injured players. These were the star players who thought they would be sidelined if they showed the symptoms and likelihood of a concussion thereby letting their team down.

This problem should not arise for martial arts practitioners but I mention it for the simple reason that many young students practice organized sports in addition to martial arts. I’ve, on occasion, observed a macho streak running through much of organized sports and I call it the ‘win at all costs’ syndrome. And I remember that attitude as the primary cause of ‘Watergate.’”

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